Research Project

Taranaki climate resilience: Te tirohanga o ngā tohu

Biodiversity in a changing climate

Northern Taranaki kaitiaki use environmental tohu as early warning signs, and even more so in the context of climate change. Environmental tohu help kaitiaki understand the best ways to care for te taiao, to monitor environmental change, and to focus effort and funding (for example, on pest control, restoration, replanting or reintroducing locally extinct species).

Taranaki climate resilience: Te tirohanga o ngā tohu Deep South Challenge
Moki forest in Taranaki. Image courtesy of Anne-Maree McKay.

This research will support the development of a taiao management framework, informed by the mātauranga of Ngāti Mutunga,  Ngāti Tama and Ngāti Maru. The framework will draw on local environmental tohu and māramataka to support and enhance current kaitiakitanga approaches within the Taranaki rohe.

A monitoring framework that is inclusdive of tikanga and mātauranga will be particularly important, as local and national government looks to partner with iwi to address climate change. We know that current process-based models don’t properly include mātauranga. Frameworks that can be used in parallel, maintaining their own integrity, will enable community-based solutions.

The kind of framework we aim to develop should be able to be used by iwi members for environmental restoration, environmental monitoring, planning for local developments and to assess resource consent and development applications, in the context of a changing climate.

In summary, our project will:

  1. summarise Māori ways of caring for te taiao 
  2. identify local environmental tohu with hapū and iwi (such as flowering and fruiting seasons)
  3. document a kaupapa Māori model of understanding the local environment 
  4. understand the relationships between local environmental tohu and climate change
  5. develop a framework that demonstrates how process-based modelling alongside mātauranga can better inform biodiversity management, under a changing  climate.